Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge

Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
The land next to where the Brooklyn Bridge meets Manhattan, in the photo above, was once owned by my 10th-great-grandfather, Philippe Du Trieux. I was able to walk through this area after finishing meetings at the United Nations on 16 August 2017. I walked from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. While I had written about Philippe's life in the Netherlands, I have spent little time recounting his life after departing Amsterdam in 1624. I will have a post on his life as the court messenger in New Amsterdam in the near future.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Land deed from Allen to Elizabeth Matthews

Last month I wrote about my 4th-great-grandparents, Allen Matthews and Sarah Davis Matthews. At the time, I referenced a land deed from Allen to his sister-in-law Elizabeth Matthews in Smith County, Tennessee on 17 February 1847. Thanks to information provided by distant cousin and fellow Matthews researcher Linda, below is a copy of that land deed.
Land deed from Allen to Elizabeth Matthews. 17 Feb 1847.
Allen sold the land to Elizabeth for $150.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Black Sheep

Last week I was looking at State of Tennessee v Pleasant M. Riggs, a case from the Supreme Court of Tennessee and Grainger County Circuit Court. This week brings another case referencing members of the Jones and Thornhill family, the State vs Samuel and Thomas Larimore (1879). The Riggs case contained testimony by Roland Larimore, a neighbor of Richard Thornhill who may have been married to Richard's sister, Amanda Elizabeth Thornhill. The case of State vs Samuel and Thomas Larimore is a curious one, containing 50 pages and conflicting testimony by witnesses who were related or connected by marriage.
Source: TSLA, State v Samuel and Thomas Larimore, 1879.

The action was brought by William A. Bowers in Hamblen County against two sons of Roland Larimore, Samuel and Thomas, for grand larceny, stealing 50 bushels of wheat from Bowers' property. Bowers was married to Margaret E. Thornhill, daughter of Richard Thornhill and Margaret Cline. Thomas W. Thornhill was a witness for Bowers. A grand jury found Samuel and Thomas Larimore guilty, fixing their punishment at 3 years and nine months confinement each in the State Penitentiary. The Larimores argued for a new trial and appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

William Bowers asserted that 50 bushels of wheat was taken from his barn. On 4 September 1878, he found nine sacks of wheat hidden in his cornfield behind his barn. He got some of his neighbors to help watch to see who might come back to take the sacks of wheat. On the night of 5 September, Thomas Thornhill, Joseph Jones (my 3rd-great-grandfather), Tom Jones (Joseph's son, my 2nd-great-grandfather), George Bowers, George Lewis and George Newman were stationed with Bowers on various points to lookout for the wheat thieves. In Bowers' testimony, he noted how the moon was very bright that evening, proving enough light to be able to watch the sacks of wheat.

A wagon arrived at about 9pm from the direction of Roland Larimore's property. Bowers recognized Roland's sons Samuel and Thomas. Thomas Larimore started to lift up a sack of wheat, and Bowers yelled at him to surrender. Thomas dropped the sack and ran off, and Bowers fired a shot at him. Samuel took off with the wagon.

Thomas Thornhill also testified that he saw Thomas Larimore pick up the sack of wheat and that he heard Samuel Larimore driving the wagon.

Another witness named Mason Moore testified that Samuel and Thomas Larimore approached him on four occasions to help them steal the wheat from Bowers', in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. Moore was to be the Larimore's lookout to see if anyone came out of Bowers' house while they were stealing the wheat. Moore had been helping the Larimores steal wheat from other area farmers.

Roland Larimore offered his testimony that the boys Samuel and Thomas lived with him, that they had gone to bed before dark and that his daughter Adeline had fastened the back door to his home with a pin on the inside and the front door with a chain. Roland testified that he did hear a wagon pass by his house about 9pm. He said he did not hear any noise from where the boys were sleeping and that he did not think they could get out without him hearing.

Roland's other children Adeline, John and Richard provided testimony in support of their brothers.

The court ruled against the Larimore brothers, sentencing them to jail.

The witness list included Madison Line, who sold land to Joseph Jones in 1878.

I thought this might be the end of the case, but the Tennessee Wills and Probate records on Ancestry had a large file on Roland Larimore, much of it on bonds and summons issued in the case against Samuel and Thomas Larimore.

The probate file also contained another case involving Roland Larimore, the State v Roland Larimore and Martha Mansfield, for lewdness in December 1872.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Visit to the birthplace of the Internet

This is a series of photos from a tour of 3420 Boelter Hall at UCLA. It is a recreation of the lab where the first ARPANET message was sent from UCLA to Stanford in October 1969, ushering in the Internet Age. For better photos and more background, see this 2014 article from Gizmodo.
Photo by Patrick Jones. 3420 Boelter Hall, 25 Sep 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Entrance to 3420 Boelter Hall at UCLA.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Diagram of the early ARPANET.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Early computing.
Photo by Patrick Jones. 3420 Boelter Hall, 25 Sep 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Looking inside the Interface Message Processor.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock recalls the history of the ARPANET.

Friday, October 6, 2017

More testimony in the Riggs case

I am continuing to make my way through the 107-page case file from the Tennessee State Library and Archives for State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs. Yesterday I covered the testimony of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Jones. The testimony of witness Columbus Biddle provides more context into the dispute that led to the killing of Captain John A. Thornhill. Biddle stated that there were two factions in the regiment, one led by Thornhill and one led by Colonel Parsons. He said "the feeling was very bitter between the two parties. I do not know which side Riggs was on. Captain Bell was on the Parsons side. Riggs was a private soldier in Captain Bell's company."

Sarah Jane Thornhill Ryan, sister of Richard Thornhill, and Margaret Emily Thornhill Bowers, sister of Captain John Thornhill, were present at the home with the company led by Captain Bell arrived. They both provided testimony that the company called John out of the house and shot him as he ran.

The rest of the case file shows the charge to the jury in Grainger County and the costs provided to the court and witnesses.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Testimony of Joseph Jones

I have been very lucky to stumble across various cases and documents referring to my 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Jones. His Civil War pension file provided a wealth of information, identifying his four wives. A Civil War pension file for Thomas W. Thornhill included a handwritten note signed by Joseph. The case surrounding the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill mentions Joseph Jones as part of his command in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry. It was a nice surprise to see his name mentioned again in the Supreme Court of Tennessee records for State of Tennessee v Pleasant M. Riggs.
Testimony of Joseph Jones. State v. Riggs, 1869.

According to Joseph's testimony, he was marching with the company when the lead group shot and killed John Thornhill at his uncle Richard Thornhill's home. He did not see the shots fired, but he agreed with other testimony that Riggs' mule was in the lead and had tracks near where Thornhill was shot. On cross-examination, Jones said he was riding with Captain Bell and did not see who had fired shots at Thornhill. Joseph Jones and James Cox were part of the group that arrested Pleasant Riggs later that evening in Morristown, Tennessee.

A scout, who is never named, had been sent ahead with the lead group. Several witnesses stated that private soldiers knew nothing of the object and purpose of scouts.

The case mentions refers to several witnesses in the case, all who have connections to the Jones and Thornhill families. Joseph Jones was compensated for 12 days of being a witness. Richard Thornhill was compensated for 13 days. Jacob Ryan (here spelled Ryans) was compensated for 8 days. He was the husband of Sarah Jane Thornhill, youngest sister of Richard. Margaret Emily Bowers was a sister of John Thornhill. Roland Larimore was possibly married to a sister of Richard Thornhill and was certainly a close friend and neighbor.

The case was originally filed in Jefferson County, but the venue was moved to neighboring Grainger County. The case was initiated on 15 August 1865, against James Bell, Samuel E. Rankin, Pleasant M. Riggs, Job Powell, Jacob Letcher, John Biddle, John James, Isaac Frazier, Peyton Rutherford, Benjamin Lockhart, Monroe Hooper and Joseph Parsons by Richard Thornhill and Joseph Jones.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Looking into the Riggs case

In Monday's post, I started revisiting the case of State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs. Riggs was a Private in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry from 1864-1865. He had previously served in the Confederate Army from 1861-1683. Riggs was with the Union soldiers during the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill on 24 June 1865. A civil suit was brought against Riggs and other soldiers, this wound its way up to the Supreme Court before being sent back to the circuit court in 1866, finding judgment in favor of Riggs that the circuit court had ruled against him in error. This case file covers the retrial in Grainger County, Tennessee from November 1866 to 1869. The new trial began on 24 December 1866.

A Grand Jury was formed, and Riggs posted a $3000 bond on 28 December 1866. The next proceedings in the case were on 29 April 1867. The Tennessee Attorney General represented the State, charging Riggs with murder. The State also claimed Riggs was in default on the $3000 bond. Riggs filed an appearance on 28 August 1868. In December 1868, Riggs' counsel requested a continuance to the next term of the court (April 1869). In April 1869, Riggs' counsel again requested a continuance to the next term, August 1869. On 25 August 1869, Riggs entered a plea of not guilty. The jury found Riggs guilty of second degree murder, sentencing him to 10 years hard labor in jail.

Riggs took his case back to the Supreme Court of Tennessee. On 1 September 1869, Riggs' counsel provided a series of exhibits in support of his client. First, they claimed two of the jurors were ineligible to have been empaneled. Second, the jury should have been advised that Riggs was a soldier in the US Army and was ordered by a superior officer to be at the place where the murder occurred, that he was lawfully there and no act or deed of the others could be given in evidence of the defendant Riggs.

Third, Riggs' counsel argued that the State had to provide that Riggs "had knowledge of the object and purpose of the expedition and actually participated in the killing, and knew that the act was unlawful." Fourth, the State had to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Supreme Court sided with Riggs.

After the case
Riggs married in 1869 and moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee. He had a daughter Eliza in January 1870, and a son John in 1872. By 1880, Pleasant and wife Joanna were living in Hamblen County, Tennessee. Pleasant Riggs died in 1887 in Hamblen County.

Riggs married Joanna Giffort or Gifford in Grainger County, Tennessee on 15 September 1868. He had been previously married to Fanny A. M. Ellis on 28 October 1860 in Jefferson County. Fanny and Riggs were separated during the Civil War, and the depositions in the Riggs case mention that he was living apart from his wife.


While this marked the end of the Supreme Court case, this recap only covers the first 37 pages of the file. There are still 100 more pages to cover. Fortunately the case file also included the witness testimony from the circuit court, and this is where it becomes very interesting for my family history research. I will continue this in the next post.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Another one from the Tennessee State Library & Archives

A frequent research subject on the blog has been the facts surrounding the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill, nephew of my 4th-great-grandmother Elizabeth Thornhill Jones. I have posted before about finding cases mentioning family from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. While looking again for references to the Matthews family I decided to check if I may have missed cases for the Thornhill family. I apparently missed a big one. The case of State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs (1869) is a whopping 107 pages. This is a companion case to Rankin v State of Tennessee, argued before the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1867.
Source: TSLA. State v Pleasant Riggs, cover page.
The case includes depositions and statements from several of my extended family, including my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Jones, Elizabeth Thornhill Jones' brother, Richard Thornhill, and others.

I have long thought that I had enough background material to turn the stories surrounding Thornhill into a book. Adding another 107 pages of case material from the Tennessee State Library & Archives expands this greatly. I will work through this slowly and try to weave in references from my prior research. There's much more to come on this case.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Guardian

Photo by Patrick Jones. Mural by Francisco Letelier at Santa Monica Red Cross.

This mural, called "Guardian," is located on the Santa Monica Red Cross building on 11th Street in Santa Monica, not far from our condo. The work was painted by Venice-based artist Francisco Letelier in collaboration with Beautify Earth. It is a beautiful piece and looks inspired by Gustav Klimt's style in the golden hair of the woman.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Mural by Francisco Letelier. 25 Sept 2017.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Source: North Carolina, 1826.
After writing about my 5th-great-grandparents Wiley and Sarah Freeze Mathews, I turn to Wiley's father, my 6th-great-grandfather Claborn Mathews. His name is spelled in various ways in documents, from Clyborn to Claiborne to Claburn or Cliborn. Claborn lived in Chatham County, North Carolina, and his will is available from Ancestry's North Carolina Wills and Probate Records. The will was written on 6 October 1797.
Source: Ancestry. Chatham County, NC.
Signature line from Claborn's will.
In 1801, Claborn executed a codicil on the will granting a distribution of the share of his estate to two of his children, Claborn Mathews Junior and Mary Mathews Skidmore.
Codicil from 1801.
Claborn left his personal estate to his wife Mary, with an equal division of his land to sons Wiley and Lewis Mathews. The rest of the estate was to be divided among all of his children then single. Separately he left five shillings to son Kinchen Mathews, and five shillings to daughter Lucretia Mathews Horn (spelled as Lucreasy). His wife Mary and son Britain Mathews were appointed as executors of the estate. The will was proven in November 1806, meaning Claborn must have died in late 1806.

Claborn appears in the 1790 US Census in Chatham County, North Carolina. He is listed close to brother Lawrence Mathews.
Source: 1790 US Census. Chatham County, NC.
In the 1800 US Census, Claborn appears in Hillsborough, Chatham County, NC.
Source: 1800 US Census. Chatham County, NC.
His birth date is not known, but is suspected to be around 1845, although it could have been earlier or slightly later. Claborn witnessed a deed in Northampton County, North Carolina on 7 November 1767. Northampton County is on the Virginia-North Carolina state line. Claborn likely moved to the area that became Chatham County around the time of county formation in 1770. His father Thomas Mathews died in Northampton County in 1770.

Claborn acquired 140 acres on the east side of New Hope Creek on 27 June 1783. The land was adjoining Matthew Davis, who also witnessed the purchase.

Claborn's wife Mary must have died about 1819, as that is when the remainder of the Mathews estate was sold.

There is more work to do on this branch of the family. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Path to Mississippi

Source: Google Maps.

From yesterday's post, my 5th-great-grandparents Wiley Mathews and Sarah Freeze Mathews moved from Warren County to Coffee County, Tennessee to Tishomingo County, Mississippi, sometime before 1850. Wiley's brother, Kinchen Mathews, likely arrived first around 1839. Kinchen was named a constable in the county in 1840 (see History of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi Territory on FamilySearch) and he appears in the 1840 US Census in the county. He also appears in early county land records with Joseph Warren Matthews (Mississippi's first governor) and Joseph's brother James E. Matthews. My Mathews line does not appear to be immediately related to this Matthews family.

In 1856, northern Mississippi looked like the map below. Tishomingo County was originally larger, in the northeast corner of the state, bordering Alabama and Tennessee. By 1874, the county had been split into three, Alcorn, Prentiss and Tishomingo.
Source: Northern Mississippi, 1856.
Source: Northern Mississippi, 1874.
I need to look further at available records to see if there is more information on Wiley Mathews. For now, I am going to pause on Wiley and go back another generation to Wiley's father, my 6th-great-grandfather, Claborne Mathews.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Going back another generation

Another generation back from Allen Matthews, his parents (my 5th-great-grandparents) were Wiley Mathews and Sarah Freeze. AncestryDNA's DNA Circles has me and the tests I administer on my Mom's side of the family in a group for both Wiley and Sarah. I know there are a large number of connections out there who descend from these two. I am going to work carefully, using what is in available records, to try to build out a timeline for their departure from North Carolina to their arrival in Tennessee and later later settlement in Mississippi.
NC & TN Early Land Records, 22 Jul 1826
Based on exchanges with another Mathews/Matthews researcher, Wiley is believed to have arrived in Warren County, Tennessee between 1810 and 1812. He probably followed his brother Kinchen Mathews to Warren County, as Kinchen was in Roane County as early as 1801 and then in Warren County.
Source: Google Maps. Chatham, NC to Warren, TN.
Wiley appears in the 1820 and 1830 US Census in Warren County, Tennessee.

Wiley acquired a large tract of land covering 640 acres in Coffee County, Tennessee in 1836. The survey was witnessed by his son Matthew Mathews and my 5th-great-grandfather Matthew M. Davis (father of Sarah Davis Matthews). He added another 200 acres to this on the headwaters of Hickory Creek in Coffee County in February 1837. Wiley and Matthew Mathews' land can be seen on the 1839 Coffee County tax list below.
Source: Ancestry. Tennessee Tax List, 1839.
Wiley assigned his lands in Warren County to his son William in October 1837. It looks like he then moved on to neighboring Coffee County. Wiley's son Elijah Mathews was also in Coffee County, Tennessee in 1839.

Wiley and Sarah's son Matthew died in Coffee County sometime before March 1839. Wiley appears in the 1840 US Census in Coffee County, Tennessee.

In June 1840, Elijah Mathews appears in a court case in Coffee County (State of Tennessee v Elijah Matthews). Wiley was a witness in the case.

By 1850, Wiley had relocated to Tishomingo County, Mississippi, along with several of his children.
1850 US Census, Tishomingo County, MS

Wiley and Sarah had at least the following children:
- Matthew Mathews, born 1805 in North Carolina, died before March 1839 in Coffee County, Tennesse
- Claiborne Mathews (various spellings including Claborn, Clibourn), born in North Carolina in 1810, died 16 December 1879 in Smith County, Tennessee
- William Lewis Mathews, born in 1812 in Warren County, Tennessee, died 9 February 1897 in Montgomery County, Texas
- Allen Mathews, born in 1813 in Warren County, Tennessee, died sometime before 1870 in Metcalfe County, Kentucky (my 4th-great-grandfather)
- Elijah Mathews, born about 1819 in Warren County, Tennessee
- Sarah Mathews, born in 1823 in Warren County, Tennessee
- Tapley B. Mathews, born in 1828 in Warren County, Tennessee
- W. Stanford Mathews, born in 1829 in Warren County, Tennessee

By 1860, Wiley was listed as a farm laborer in the household of his son, William Mathews. William had become a baptist minister. Sarah Freeze Mathews must have died before the 1860 Census.
1860 US Census, Tishomingo County, MS
Wiley was still living in William's household in the 1870 Census.
1870 US Census, Tishomingo County, MS
Wiley disappears after the 1870 Census, and he is presumed to have died in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. I am planning to make another visit to the DAR Research Library and look for gaps in the records.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Allen and Sarah

Life Magazine Collection, Bulls in Tennessee. Photo by Edward Clark.
Moving backward one generation to my 4th-great-grandparents, I now turn to Allen Matthews and Sarah Davis. Allen and Sarah were likely married around 1835 or in the early 1830s in Smith County, Tennessee. The earliest available marriage records for Smith County begin in 1838. Sarah Davis was a daughter of Matthew Madison Davis and Elizabeth.

According to the 1900 US Census entry for Sarah, she had 14 children, but I am currently only aware of 10. Of the known children of Allen and Sarah, their names are below. If you are descended from this line and stumble onto my entry, please feel free to reach out with additional information.

Children of Allen and Sarah (the Matthews name is also often spelled in records as Mathews, Mathis)

- William Matthews, born 2 August 1836, died on 7 October 1922 (my 3rd-great-grandfather)
- Matthew Matthews, born in 1837, died in April 1877
- James Matthews, born in either 1837/1838
- John Matthews, born in 1841
- Cynthia E. Matthews, born in May 1844
- Allen Matthews, born in December 1846, died 19 December 1923 in Bryan, Oklahoma
- Wiley Simeon Matthews, born in 1849
- Thomas Anthony Matthews, born 28 December 1854, died in January 1922 in Grayson County, Texas
- Elijah Matthews, born in 1855 in Smith County, Tennessee
- Mary Francis Matthews, born on 7 August 1861 in Metcalfe County, Kentucky, died on 27 March 1955 in Metcalfe County

From the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington DC, I was able to see some books on Smith County. Matthew Davis sold a tract of land on Defeated Creek to Allen Matthews on 2 July 1838. On the same day he also sold a tract of land to Elijah W. Davis. Elijah sold a tract of land to Allen Matthews on 4 November 1839.

Allen Matthews swapped ten acres with Daniel Smith on 25 November 1841. On 4 March 1845, Allen bought 25 acres from Allen Crowell, and sold 30 acres to Crowell. Crowell had bought 200 acres from Matthew Davis on 30 April 1842, so perhaps some of the land Allen purchased had originally belonged to Matthew.

Allen bought another tract of land from John Page on 30 November 1846. He transferred a tract to Elizabeth Matthews on 17 February 1847.

1850 US Census, Smith County, Tennessee
In the 1850 US Census, Allen, Sarah and family were living in Smith County, north of Cumberland and east of Caney Fork Rivers. Their son Matthew is seen living in the household with his young wife Darthula C. Hunt. They were married in the county on 17 May 1849.

Not all the records show an exchange of land. David P. Hodges sold a slave to Allen Matthews on 3 February 1857. In the record she is listed as a "negro girl." The 1850 Census slave schedules shows David P. Hodges owned several slaves, including one girl who was 4 years old in 1850. This girl was probably the same one, meaning she was born about 1846 and was likely a child of the slave man and women who were 25 and 24 in the 1850 record. This girl would have been about 11 in 1857. I cannot tell what happened next to the girl.

On 20 January 1859, Allen Matthews sold 128 acres to Armstead Moore in Smith County, Tennessee. This was probably the sale of the family farm and all their property in the state, as they next appear in the 1860 US Census in Metcalfe County, Tennessee.
1860 US Census, Metcalfe County, Kentucky
Allen Matthews died sometime before the 1870 US Census, as he does not appear in the document. In 1870, Sarah was managing the farm on her own with younger sons Thomas and Elijah and older son Allen living next door with new wife Margaret Caroline Flowers.
1870 US Census, Metcalfe County, Kentucky
Sarah's daughter Cynthia is shown with a two-year-old son, John L. Herring. The father is not listed, but I think it is 21-year-old John L. Herring, living four homes away on the same page in the census.

The 1880 US Census shows that Sarah's parents were both from North Carolina, which matches other known information about Matthew and Elizabeth Davis.
1880 US Census, Metcalfe County, Kentucky
Sarah's daughter Mary Francis appears in the household with husband James Williams and son Robert A. Williams.

The 1900 US Census shows Sarah Matthews (here spelled Mathews) still as the head of household. This entry shows she was born in May 1815, and had 14 children, with 7 still living. Her son John Matthews was still living with her.

Sarah does not appear in the 1910 US Census, therefore she likely died sometime between 1900 and 1910. She must have been a hardy woman to maintain the farm over 30 years after Allen's early death.

One more bit of useful information, on Mary Francis Mathews' marriage record to James Williams, it says that Mary's father was from Warren County, Tennessee, while her mother was from Smith County, Tennessee. Warren County is south of Smith County, but still close. I will need to check early Warren County records for references to the Matthews/Mathews family.

Based on my AncestryDNA results, I know there are many descendants for this Matthews family who may be out there. Again, if you stumble onto this page and have additional information about Allen or Sarah Davis Matthews and their family, please let me know.